HT 8am Luke 10.38-42 Amos 8.1-12, or Colossians 1.15-28 16th July 2016
But the Lord answered her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; 42there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.’
I don’t know about you but it seems the older I get the more I need to keep lists of things I need to do. Life gets soo busy doesn’t it? And the busier life is the harder it is to remember everything. Demands from family, friends, work and, dare I say, church! My to-do list is never ending with things to buy, places to go and people to meet. I wonder if you have similar lists of things to do?
Sometimes its help to write things down so we don’t have to keep them on our minds. What sort of things are on your mind, your to-do list, that you would like to share?
Write results from congregation on special flash paper.
My! What a long list of busyness!
Sometimes lists are just so Ugh! Don’t you wish you could just! Set fire to list
Don’t you wish you could do the same? To, perhaps, just stop for a bit and have a breather? And give yourself space to hear something really life giving?
Mary did just that. She stepped out of the busyness of her life and stopped for a moment at the feet of Jesus. She stopped and listened. This was a special moment which she wanted to drink in.
Martha though was full of busyness. You can imagine her dashing to and fro, carrying food and drink from the kitchen to the men, cleaning away the mess they made and all the time with the smile of a gracious host. Well maybe not a smile but a grimace. A clenched teeth smile as she asked Jesus ‘Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me!
But was it Mary’s lack of help with the work that was upsetting Martha or something far more serious?
Martha was cross not only because Mary seemed to be ignoring her work duties as a woman but Mary was also breaking a social rule of sitting with the men in the public room of the house. She was in the men only area! Not only that but she dared to sit at the feet of the Teacher, Jesus!
To sit at the feet of a teacher was a decidedly male role. Sitting at someone’s feet doesn’t mean a devoted, dog like adoring posture as though the teacher were a pop idol or a celebrity. To sit at the feet of a teacher meant to be their student. And to sit at the feet of a rabbi was what you did if you wanted to be a rabbi yourself. Not learning for the sake of learning. Mary had quietly taken her place as a would be teacher and preacher of the Kingdom of God.
And Jesus’s response to Martha is soo ccounter-culture so unexpected because instead of agreeing with her and rebuking Mary. He simply says ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.’
Jesus affirms Mary’s right to sit at His feet because His values are different to society. He’s not just pro women but pro women and men! God’s overflowing love will not be confined by society attitude towards the rightful place of women and men. God’s love is like a great river breaking its bank into a parched countryside, irrigates those parts of human society which until now had remained barren and unfruitful.
Mary stands for all those women, who when they hear Jesus speaking about the kingdom, know that God is calling them to listen carefully so that they can speak of it too.
During that special moment at the feet of Jesus, Mary chose the better part for her life over the expectations society had for her. In that moment she had chosen stillness over busyness, listening instead of speaking. Such moments are precious and divine.
What does this passage say to us as Disciples of Christ? Last week we heard the parable of the Good Samaritan when Jesus tells the Lawyer to ‘Go and do likewise.’ The parable shows there are moments in life when action is needed, for the right thing to be done. Not all work is bad as without Martha’s busyness, there would be nothing to eat!
But Mary’s time of quietly sitting at Jesus’s feet shows there are moments when we need to be still, to think about where we are and what God is doing. How else can we hear God if we do not spend time just being quiet, listening?
As Disciples of Christ, we need to continually seek the balance between moments of action and stillness, of doing and being. Easier said than done I know! But why is that? What boundaries hold us back? What rules need to be broken? What lists need burning?! Most of our activities are for good reasons but sometimes there are better uses of our time. It’s up to us to ask God daily to show us what he would like us to do for him.